In early 2020, just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, SOFER Initiative emerged as one amongst the two winners of the inaugural Joanna Toole Ghost Gear Solutions Award.
The award which was created in honour of Joanna Toole, a tireless advocate for ocean conservation whose life tragically came to an end in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019, is given to the most deserving organisations with compelling projects and strategies to tackle Abandoned, lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG), also known as ghost gear.
This grant enabled us to implement the next phase of our project called “Dive-for-Data” campaign, which entails engaging local divers by educating them about ghost gears and what to do when they encounter it. We also created an offshore recovery campaign to recover ghost gears from the ocean and further strengthen the DFD campaign by ensuring that only skilled divers performed gear removal.
Furthermore, our team hosted a skill acquisition workshop for women and youths where they were trained on how to convert recovered nets into useful crafts, in order to create an alternative source of income. Also, a HubNet (Data and Information Collection Center) which was destroyed by severe weather and high tides was restored so it can continue serving the host community.
We are glad to be among the first recipients of this award as well as featuring in the Global Ghost Gear 2020 Annual Report. We are truly inspired and hope to continue consolidating efforts by working with passionate young people in order to end the menace of ghost gears in Africa.